Taboo Tensions: When a Stepdaughter’s Period Pits Family Members Against Each Other

By Emma Williams

A man looking for advice asked an online forum about a disagreement he had with his new wife and stepdaughter. He and his three teenage sons had been living together with his new wife and stepdaughter (then aged 19) for about 6 months.

What Was the Problem?

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Prior to the marriage, the boys and their father hadn’t ever lived with women for a significant period of time. All four teenagers shared the same bathroom. The oldest son complained to his father about his stepsister disposing of sanitary products in the shared trashcan, wrapped in their original wrapper but otherwise undisguised.

The Father Agreed with His Sons

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The man agreed with his sons that the situation was awkward, and had a talk with his stepdaughter about it. She and her mother disagreed, saying that the men were being unreasonable.

It Caused an Argument

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When the man brought up the issue with the stepdaughter, she dismissed the idea as silly and was argumentative about it. He later brought it up with his new wife, and was surprised when she agreed with her daughter.

My House, My Rules

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Some commenters didn’t think that the original poster should have tried to end the original discussion by saying “My house, my rules” to his stepdaughter. The two families only integrated six moths prior, and commenters thought that it made it sound like he didn’t consider her a real part of the family.

How To Dispose of Feminine Products

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In the original post, the man said that the stepdaughter threw away used products in the trash can, online posters agreed that this was the right way to do it. Many thought that it was unreasonable for the teenage boys to complain unless they were left lying on the floor or some other unsanitary location.

Bathroom Etiquette

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The stepdaughter disagreed that she was the one with poor bathroom manners. She argued that shaved hair and skid marks in the toilet left by the boys were more impolite than her throwing away used products.

Ignorance About Periods

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Several commenters thought that the original poster and his sons seemed ignorant about periods. They thought that suggestions such as flushing products or using excessive plastic like diaper bags was a sign that he didn’t really know what he was talking about.

Should Both Sides Have Made Compromises?

Puzzled young adult woman with arms out, shrugging her shoulders
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Some commenters suggested compromises to make both parties happy. Using a trash can with a lid or wrapping the products in toilet paper were both suggested.

Were They Belittling the Stepdaughter?

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However, commenters still thought that the original poster might be blowing the issue out of proportion by asking the stepdaughter to use diaper bags.

Flushing Feminine Products

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One suggestion the man made was that the stepdaughter flush her feminine products so that nobody has to see them. The stepdaughter rightly dismissed the idea, and was backed up by many online commenters.

Flushing is a Terrible Idea

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Feminine products can badly clog plumbing systems, since they are designed to absorb liquids without breaking down easily. This would have quickly caused much bigger issues.

Far Too Much Awkwardness

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While commenters agreed that the boys were acting immature, the discomfort they were feeling was real, and it may have been exacerbated with their inexperience living with women. A few commenters thought that the better response would be to sit the boys down for an age appropriate talk about natural bodily functions.

Natural Bodily Functions

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Many commenters thought it was silly to single out a natural and involuntary bodily function. Some thought that it could be a red flag of unconscious misogyny.

Some Men Have Phobias About Periods

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Some commenters shared stories of men they had had relationships with who had phobias about periods. These phobias would lead them to lash out at or shy away from their girlfriends when they were on their periods, often leading to breakups and hurt feelings.

Do They Need to Be Educated?

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These commenters thought that the bathroom situation could be used as a teaching moment for the sons so that they don’t develop potential phobias about periods.

There Was a Family Discussion

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At the end of the original post, the man mentioned that his stepdaughter called a family discussion to talk about periods. She put together an informative and funny power point that explained the process and made it seem less strange to the new family members, making everyone more comfortable in the end.

Making Everyone Happy in the End

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By getting the family together and having an educational moment, the stepdaughter was able to make periods seem less unusual and gross to her new male family members. As long as things are properly disposed of in the trash can, feminine products don’t have to be any stranger than anything else you might need to throw away in a bathroom.

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